Judging from the comments on social media and the notes I have receivedÂ from active and retired shipmates, the buzz surrounding CDR GuyÂ Snodgrass’ “Keep a Weather Eye on the Horizon” is real and I’m encouragedÂ to see it. It’s no surprise why this paper has become a topic ofÂ discussion in wardrooms and ready rooms around the fleet, and passedÂ electronically across warfare communities.
Our Navy has a proud tradition of professional discourse, and thisÂ excellent paper lies squarely in that mold. Good arguments are typicallyÂ dual-edged – one side passion, the other logic. Guy’s passion is evidentÂ and it appears many of you share it. More than that, he understandsÂ complete loyalty means complete honesty, and I know – personally – thatÂ he wrote this paper only to help make our institution better. It alreadyÂ has. Top naval leaders are aware of several of the issues he touches on.Â Many are being studied, budgeted for, or in the early stages ofÂ implementation. Others give us pause.
I share many of the concerns and have similar questions to those detailedÂ in Guy’s paper. A quick example – many of you have heard me on the roadÂ talk about how BUPERS (being self-critical) historically “swings behindÂ the pitch”, unable to nimbly react to economic and early stage retentionÂ issues. It’s not neglect, good people here trying to do the best theyÂ can with limited tools, but the fact is it has cost us in both goodÂ people and money. We have to do better, and I must say that thisÂ discourse helps.
We’ve all been JO’s and yes we can also fall victim to forgetting what itÂ was like, but this is also the power of discourse. The idea that thereÂ is a perception that operational command is not valued and there is anÂ erosion of trust in senior leadership bothers me…I want to hear more,Â learn more from you.
Fostering an environment where folks feel empowered to share theirÂ thoughts on important issues is a core responsibility of leadership.Â Ideas, good and bad, have no rank. Yet the discourse can’t just stopÂ there. We need thoughtful debate on how to solve problems, not just anÂ articulate accounting of what’s wrong and who’s at fault. We needÂ leaders willing to offer new and innovative solutions to problems that atÂ times appear impossible or hopeless. Those kind of leaders inspire allÂ of us to continue serving men and women in our charge.
Guy has set an example for one way to ensure thoughtful debate has aÂ voice. Please push your ideas forward — write about them, talk aboutÂ them with your Sailors, up and down the chain of command. This is theÂ only way we will overcome the challenges ahead of us – together.